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A salesman from Soutpan, near Bloemfontein, has driven his 2004 Volkswagen Polo for a million kilometres without accident or mechanical fault, Volkswagen SA said on Monday.
That's further than a trip to the moon and back, or like driving around the earth at the equator 25 times.
Gerrie Esterhuizen, 67, said he and his wife, Magriet, had long wondered what reading the odometer would show once their faithful car reached the million kilometre mark.
“After 999 999.9 kilometres, the [odometer] just shows six dashes, although the trip meter carries on working,” he said.
Volkswagen SA invited Esterhuizen to visit its plant in Uitenhage to celebrate the achievement of his Polo, which still had its original engine and other key parts.
The Esterhuizens kept meticulous record of their four-wheeled friend's remarkable odyssey.
Most of its life thus far had been spent traversing the testing roads of the Free State, and parts of the Northern Cape, North West, and Lesotho.
“We travel up to 800km a day from our home and back, often spending more than 10 hours on the road and seeing clients, mainly in small towns in our sales territory,” Esterhuizen said.
In their trusty Volksie, the Esterhuizens clocked up between 8 000km and 10 000km per month, but in years gone by they often drove more than 12 000km in a month.
They estimated that the million-kilometre journey used 66 666 litres of fuel.
“That’s an excellent figure of about 700km per 50-litre tank, or 15km a litre. Working out the cost over the years at an average of R8 per litre, that’s about R533 000 in fuel costs.”
Maintenance costs were too low to estimate, he said.
Although the car required two new fuel pumps to reach the million mark, “the engine has never been opened since we bought the car at Alan Hudson Motors in Nelspruit”, Esterhuizen said.
“Its clutch, starter, alternator, exhaust system, radiator, and oil pump are all original. I have never experienced such outstanding reliability in any other vehicle I have driven.” - Sapa